How Much Money Is Enough?


How Much Money is Enough?You probably heard that the Powerball jackpot recently reached an estimated $550 million dollars. Yes, a few different people actually won over half a billion dollars in a lottery game. Crazy, huh? I hate to admit this, but yes, I did buy a ticket. In fact, I bought 5 of them. I got sucked in, dreaming that the money could potentially be mine.

The silly thing is, I rarely play unless the jackpot starts to become huge. I don’t have a particular number that I start playing at, but I will usually buy a ticket if I notice that the jackpot is over $150 million. So, why does $550 million prompt me to waste my hard-earned money when the introductory $20 million jackpot does not? My odds are of winning are exactly the same. For some reason, I’m willing to spend $10 to win $550 million, but I’m not willing to spend that same $10 for a measly $20 million. Why is that? I got me to start thinking about what somebody could even do with all of that money.  How much money is really enough, anyway?


Using our Time to Make Money

It is my belief that time is the most valuable commodity that we have, so why is it that we are so willing to trade it away for other things like money? In his book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki examines this question in great detail. Kiyosaki contends that our bosses pay us for our time in order to make money for themselves. However, most employees do not realize how valuable their time is. The value money more than time. Therefore, they give it away without much thought in order to make money for themselves.

For those of us who are employees, the more we work, the more money we make. So, the more time we commit to our jobs, the more we are compensated for that time. Yet, we should ask ourselves why we are working so hard in the first place. What are we working towards? Usually, we are working in order to support ourselves and our families needs. To take it one step further, many of us are working toward a comfortable retirement so that we have the income protection to stop working when we are ready. Thus, we are working harder now in order to have more time on our hands later.

However, often times, we get distracted and focus too much on the future. We forget to live in the now. We focus more on the sheer desire to make money, rather than on what that money can do for us. If we were stop and look around, we may realize that we already have the things that we are working so hard to get.


The Parable of the Mexican Fisherman and the Business Man

Many of you may already know the parable of the Mexican fisherman and the Harvard MBA. For those of you who don’t, here it is:


An American businessman was standing at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.

“How long it took you to catch them?” The American asked.

“Only a little while.” The Mexican replied.

“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” The American then asked.

“I have enough to support my family’s immediate needs.” The Mexican said.

“But,” The American then asked, “What do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senor.”

The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds you buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats.”

“Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own can factory. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senor, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”

“But what then, senor?”

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO (Initial Public Offering) and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”

“Millions, senor? Then what?”

The American said slowly, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos…”


- Author Unknown


In our pursuit to increase our wealth, or even to become debt free, sometimes we lose sight of what really matters to us. We forget why we are working so hard in the first place. What we really want may already be within our grasp…if we would only stop to remember what it really is that we are working towards in the first place. How much is enough? Each of us must decide that on our own, trying to remember it isn’t just about the numbers. How much are you willing to give up to get to where you want to be? Chances are, it may already be within your grasp.


About Greg

Greg Johnson is a proud husband, father, and debt crusader who is in the process of becoming debt free. He is the co-founder of the personal finance website Club Thrifty, where he brings the awesome sauce each and every day.


  1. I personally feel that my health and my time are the most valuable things that I have.
    As for how much is enough – It depends…. How big of a lifestyle do you want to lead? I could move to Vietnam right now and live the rest of my days without ever needing to work another day in my life, plus I would be able to afford servants!
    I don’t do this because I am an idiot who has delusions of grandeur.
    Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted..Using your Mortgage as your Emergency FundMy Profile

  2. I agree with Glen; my health and time are the most important things I have. Money is primarily a tool (for me at least) to have more options as to how I spend my time. When you are in debt and have little savings there aren’t a ton of options as to what you can do with your time – you are essentially “forced” to work. I hope to make enough money to leverage my time more effectively and have a safety net for myself and my family.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted..The Costs Involved in Sinus SurgeryMy Profile

  3. Great post Greg! I could not agree more. Too often we do get caught up in the race for more, more, more and don’t stop to realize that are things which are more important. Time, my family and my health are most important to me and money is just a means to provide towards those.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..Why Rebalancing Your Portfolio is Like Buying a Carton of EggsMy Profile

  4. As someone who took a non-trivial paycut between my last job and this one in exchange for working 40-50 hours/week instead of 80 or more, I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of how much I value my time and enjoyment. =)
    Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..He Said, She Said – Buying A $2K AmpMy Profile

  5. So very true. We do indeed miss the important things in life too many times.
    Thad recently posted..New Moolala iPhone App is a WinnerMy Profile

  6. Perfect post Greg. I learned to value my time more when I started my own business. We all work hard, but most of the time we are not compensated for the extra time we put in.

    I love the parable. It hits the nail on the head.
    Grayson @ Debt RoundUp recently posted..New Additions to My Personal Finance Blogs ListMy Profile

  7. Ha! This is awsome! I’ve never heard it before — had no idea what was coming until the end. It really puts things into perspective, doens’t it? Man, it really does.
    TB at BlueCollarWorkman recently posted..The Problem with Working in the CityMy Profile

  8. Great post ! I think a lot of people lose sight of the whole point of money, and get wrapped up in having more and more of it!
    Gillian @ Money After Graduation recently posted..November 2012 Spending RecapMy Profile

  9. I so relate to this, In my current situation when I go back to work I have chosen to go back to work 4 days/week to be home with my daughter the extra day, especially since when I do work I will be getting home quite close to her bedtime. I’m happy with my decision but giving up that extra day/week is pulling at me a little since we would be able to pay off debt so much faster (even with paying for childcare the extra day/week) BUT she’s only young once and I think I’d regret not spending time with her more than working and paying debt off faster. My time on Mondays (future day off) will be worth $10,000/hr and no job can afford that ;)
    Catherine recently posted..Money That Would Have Changed My Life.My Profile

  10. We get caught up in the rat race…and forget to look back….sometimes we look back too late and our wives and kids are gone..

    I sometimes forget about time and stay up way too late working on blogging that I dont spend enough time with my wife…

    We need to take time to appreciate one another..
    Christopher @ This that and the MBA recently posted..3 Steps to Eliminate Procrastination I Actually Learned In SchoolMy Profile

  11. Love the story, I stress about money because I want to have enough to be able to give my wife and future kids comforts and such, but at times forget about the time factor as well.

    Sometimes I need to think more about time together than money spent together.
    Joe Cassandra recently posted..2 Intelligent Ways to Invest $100 a MonthMy Profile

  12. That’s a great parable…really puts things in perspective. I’ve started to think of the trade off between spending money eating out or buying take-out versus saving money and cooking dinner from scratch. On some days, I’d just rather just pick up take-out and spend an extra half hour playing with my kids after a busy day at work rather than in the kitchen chopping veggies while they play by themselves. The time in the evenings is so limited and precious, and bedtime comes so quickly. I’m working on more advanced planning and meal prep so that I can provide a healthy meal in less time and that there is more time to spend with them in the evenings…something that is definitely worth more than money!
    Amy @ Spin The Meal recently posted..Orange Oat Spice MuffinsMy Profile

    • I know exactly what you mean!!!!!!!! It really is worth it to just grab some McDonalds on the way home sometimes, isn’t it? Sometimes it is worth it to spend a little money to buy a little extra time.

  13. That is exactly how I feel and why we’ve had big life changes recently. For the past several years, all I feel like I’ve done is work, to support a lifestyle we thought we needed but really didn’t enjoy in relation to the time invested to pay for it. By paying attention to our values and planning for what we want/need and don’t, I’ve found that there is usually a way to have the things you need and not spend so much time earning them, but you have to put away debt and the desire for things that don’t correlate to what you hope to achieve. That’s getting a bit deep, but I think the guest post Mandy did for me today sums it up perfectly. Funny about the lottery, my husband spent $5 a week religiously since I’ve known him on powerball. When we started our debt payoff quest, he started putting that money in a box in the closet each week and we pull it out for spring break and use it for whatever trip we have planned. No, we’ll never win the powerball, but I think it’s a much better use of funds.
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted..Do Your Purchases Reflect Your Values?My Profile

    • The chances of winning the lottery are pretty bleak. We are all definitely a lot better off not playing. My boss gave everyone a $1 scratch off at our Christmas party last week (among other more generous gifts) and out of 35 people only 2 people won a dollar!

  14. That is my FAVORITE parable about life – I first saw it on the wall at a Jimmy John’s restaurant… it’s great and I am reminded of it all the time… BTW: we didn’t win the Powerball either… My wife got a little crazy about “making sure we had a ticket”… Reggie Wayne was telling a story on the radio the other day how one time when the Powerball got really big, he bought $100 worth of tickets… he won $6… and hasn’t played since… Granted, he hit the NFL Lottery, through hard work and dedication, but nevertheless a valuable lesson…
    Brian Porter recently posted..X – Y = ZMy Profile

  15. Haha – great parable! Never heard that one before. I think it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that money is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. After I started my own business, I quickly fell (and still sometimes fall) into the habit of working all the time, working on the weekend, neglecting to exercise and do the things I enjoy. Sometimes my wife has to remind me that, hey, I started my own business so I could have more freedom with my time, not less. And as my father likes to say: You never heard anyone on their deathbed say: “Damn, I wish I’d spent more time at the office.” :) recently posted..Ways To Prepare For An Income SetbackMy Profile

  16. I’d never heard that before…absolutely love the story. It is very true though, but the only thing I’d add is that I’d like to travel which would require additional funds to do so. Other than that, I’d say we have “enough” money as things currently stand. Sure, I’d like to get out of debt faster, but I’m not sure how much more I’d be willing to sacrifice to do that. Time is limited as it is and I’d much rather spend it with my wife, friends, and family.
    Jason @ WSL recently posted..Sausage Chili RecipeMy Profile

  17. A long time ago, I achieved financial freedom (38 y.o.) so I realize the power of money. I have not changed my lifestyle other than downsizing 15 years ago. I am still working, but I enjoy what I do (teaching). The most enjoyable times of my life had nothing to do with money. They were experiences with my family. We travel overseas every other year and enjoy life.
    krantcents recently posted..5 Awesome Money Saving TipsMy Profile

  18. How much is enough? Goodness, I don’t know! That’s an interesting question — when I was a kid, I would have said a million dollars, but I know now that I would keep working if I had that kind of money. Fascinating ponderings.
    Kathleen, Frugal Portland recently posted..Update: Frugal Portland Gift Exchange!My Profile

  19. Great, timely post! It’s so important to take a momentary break from time to time to take stock of where we are, where we want to be, and what we’re willing to do to get there. Sometimes when I’ve done this exercise, I’ve realized I’m already where I wanted to be with a given goal!
    The Happy Homeowner recently posted..120 Holiday Gifts Under $20My Profile

  20. My thought has been until I don’t have to worry about money to survive any longer.
    Financial Samurai recently posted..Should I Use A Wealth Management Company Like Personal Capital?My Profile

  21. Great post! I really like that parable. It’s good to be reminded of what is really important at the end of the day: health and family.
    Mackenzie recently posted..My Own Grocery ChallengeMy Profile

  22. I never buy more than one ticket. Even if you buy 100 tickets your odds of winning are well over 1 in a million. As long as I get in the game when the jackpot is big, I figure I have just as much shot as anyone else.
    Money Beagle recently posted..Is Our Emergency Fund Redundant?My Profile

  23. Great story and what a great reminder to all of us. For me, it all comes back to living within your means. If you do that, you quickly realize you already have enough “stuff” to be happy. Heck you may even have enough to retire early, or have one parent stay home with the kids while they are in their formative years.
    Kyle @ recently posted..My Favorite Christmas Memories – New & OldMy Profile

    • Definitely. Honestly, we have more than enough “stuff” already. I just want to maintain what we have and grow our nest egg at this point.

  24. I love that quote, it is silly when one really contemplates it. I am happiest with a simpler life rich in experiences, and once that can be obtained without stressing over finances, then that is plentiful.
    Jennifer Lynn @ Broke-Ass Mommy recently posted..Plumping Our Family Coffers with an Itty-Bitty Gold UnicornMy Profile

  25. Dennis Porter says:

    Hi Greg. Article very good and to the point. Time doesn’t grow on trees. There’s only a limited amount that you have. What you choose to do with your time is what’s important! Thanks for pointing that out….

  26. Tackling Our Debt says:

    The mexican fisherman story really caught my attention. A few weeks ago Pauline posted a summarized version in one of her comments and it was the first time I had read it but it made so much sense.
    Tackling Our Debt recently posted..Six Benefits of Starting Your Own BusinessMy Profile

  27. I love this parable. I realized early that time was so valuable I would not trade it for more money than necessary. I would rather have a basic lifestyle than work like crazy to buy more stuff.

  28. I love reading those kinds of stories. So true. I think that is why they say once you make a certain amount of money (like around 75k I think), no more money makes you happier. It reminds me of when I see reality shows featuring celebs. Let’s say they act for a living, which means they make a lot of money. But on the show they usually live in a big house with fancy shit, and are constantly busy doing books and clothing lines, and other things to make more money, and they always seem stressed out and busy. If it were me, I’d just to the acting and live in a cozy house and not be so stressed.
    Budget and the Beach recently posted..Group Couponing: Taking the World by StormMy Profile

  29. I’d heard the Mexican fisherman story before and couldn’t agree more. Sometimes I wonder why I’m working so hard. If we moved to a city that’s more affordable we wouldn’t have to make as much money or work as hard to have the things we have. Bf is looking for a new job and if he finds something somewhere else (outside of NYC) we’re on the first plane there.
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..Housekeeper? What Do You Think You’re Rich?My Profile

    • I think that every time I hear about someone taking all of their savings and moving to live a relaxing life in some foreign country. Our money would go a lot further in carious places in the world! Its tempting…but I dont really want to move out of the country!

  30. Awesome parable, never heard of it. For us, it’s not even about “how much”, we’d be happy just being able to survive without worrying about money. THIS is what I’m working towards.
    Veronica @ Pelican on Money recently posted..Business WisdomMy Profile

  31. When John D. Rockefeller was asked the question, “How much is enough?”, he responded by saying, “Just a little bit more.” Right or wrong, this probably is how most of us have thought at one point or another in our lives.

    • Yes! I think you are right. It is always better to have “just a little more”….just in case. I wish we all knew where to draw the line.

  32. K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks! says:

    When I became self-employed this year the value of time really hit home for me. I could schedule my time and work as little or as much as I wanted. The greatest impact has been the improvement on time spent with my husband and family and that is irreplaceable. I’m also healthier because I work from home and free of workplace germs!
    K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks! recently posted..Why Do You Blog?My Profile

  33. That is an amazing parable. I’ve never heard it but it defiantly rings true. When saving for retirement you often need to wonder. What’s more important. Having free time now and saving less or having more free time later and saving more now for retirement.
    Justin@TheFrugalPath recently posted..Coupon Folders: A System that Works for MeMy Profile

    • A little of all of it is the goal~! That is why we dont save quit as much as we could right now….we love to go on vacation and spend on things that we enjoy.

  34. I have never heard that parable before and loved it. It’s so true that we all value money differently. Some people do want to become rich and successful and work every waking hour to attain gold. Others are happy with life keeping it simple and enjoying the time they have here on this earth. It’s really a personal decision and what means more to one in their life. Not everyone wants to be The Mexican and not everyone wants to be The American somewhere in the middle is perfect for me. Great post mate! Shared it on FB.. I really want my fans to read this. Cheers
    Canadian Budget Binder recently posted..CBB Net Worth Update~November 2012My Profile

  35. I’ve heard this story before, first time with the fisherman and Harvard grad. I’m sure there are many flavors of this, but the underlying message speaks loud and clear.

    This is exactly why I want to check out of the game early. I don’t see the real point in working longer so that I can accumulate more wealth, just so I can retire later to finally live a life I want to live right now! I’ll take less, just let me out sooner!
    FI Fighter recently posted..Workplace Politics (What a Waste of Time!)My Profile

  36. Awesome post Greg. Like many others have said, health is paramount, but money is a great vehicle for me to hopefully retire from work in the next few years.
    James @ Free in Ten Years recently posted..Monthly report: November 2012My Profile

  37. I love that parable! I often use it when talking with people who are obsessed with achieving a goal while neglecting the things that are really important to them. It is a great reminder to not lose sight of what truly matters to us. Great post!
    Deacon @ Well Kept Wallet recently posted..My First YouTube Appearance Ever. At Least That I Know of…My Profile

  38. Hi Greg,

    A truly great & inspiring post :-) We sometimes get lost and forget that we don’t have to be ridiculously rich to be happy, right? :)

    chris_moneyandi recently posted..Flight ticket refund and compensation: What’s the difference and when to claim?My Profile

  39. Love this post!!.. My job can be very demanding at times, but I never forget that my family is the center of my life.. I make sure to make time every single day for every person in my family.
    jefferson @SeeDebtRun recently posted..Home Depot Trouble — An Overdue UpdateMy Profile

  40. I agree with other commenters that my health and time with family mean more than money… that said, we certainly need the cash to enjoy that time!! Good post.. and by the way, talking of lotteries; someone in the UK let a $100m ticket go unclaimed… FOOL
    Savvy Scot recently posted..Change Your Life – Step 8 Become Better with MoneyMy Profile

  41. I’m thinkin’ like $20……… ish.
    Jacob @ iheartbudgets recently posted..The Best Ways to Fund Your RetirementMy Profile

  42. I would agree with Glen and yourself in saying that health and time are most important to me. I use my time to stay healthy and live a quality life. Some things do cost but to me they only add to my happiness and health. The line where that gets drawn is different for everyone though. I really can’t put down and exact number.
    Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter recently posted..Saving Your Pennies For A Rainy DayMy Profile

    • I’m not sure there is an exact number that can be put down for anyone. I know I can’t give you an exact number. It is more of a philisophical question for me.

  43. Beautiful post! I have to admit, we bought two tickets, too. But really….$4? Not that much. It’s not going to send me to GA or anything. I’ll chalk it up to charity. My odds are the same either way, so at least some older people are benefiting from my conscious gambling.
    femmefrugality recently posted..Seven Springs Discounts: How to Make Them Apply to Your Local ResortMy Profile

  44. I don’t believe in deciding for someone else how much money is “enough” for them but if some people think that’s their right then those thoughts are their business.

    I think a person has too much money when the amount they have leads them to only think about themselves. The number will be different for everyone.

    • Oh, I definitely don’t think you can tell somebody else that. Each person has to decide for himself how much he is willing to sacrifice to make more. As you said, every person’s answer will be different.

  45. Thanks for that parable. I had never heard of it before. I used to always max out my vacations at work. When I did end up taking a vacation, however, I really understood what I was missing out on. Time with family and friends was invaluable.

  46. I love the story. I agree, people lose perspective on the value of how they spend their time and instead just focus on the dollars since the number is easier to understand.
    Alex recently posted..Thoughts on the Meaning of Pushing the EnvelopeMy Profile


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